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Old 01-21-2003, 07:24   #1 (permalink)
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CEO of Ford's Premier Automotive Group seeking better launches, improved marketing

By JULIE CANTWELL | Automotive News

Mark Fields, named CEO of Ford's Premier Automotive Group in July, spent the first six months on his job learning the differences between his four luxury brands and setting priorities for cross-brand efficiencies.

In an interview after a speech to the Automotive News World Congress, Fields said he plans to execute this year at least the top three of those priorities. They are:

1. Launch products flawlessly.

2. Reach efficiency and cost-saving goals.

3. Balance its marketing equation: vehicle volume, marketing costs and pricing.

Fields would not disclose specific goals for efficiency and cost savings among his four brands - Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and Aston Martin. Nor would he say how much PAG is expected to contribute to Ford Motor Co.'s earnings goal of 70 cents a share for 2003.

But he did provide two examples of how the group has begun to realize savings through sharing costs.

"In the United States, just on facilities costs alone, we've saved about 6 percent," Fields said.

"As you look at logistics, there are huge opportunities there. We kind of combined port logistics here in the U.S., and that saved us about 7 percent. Depending on the issue, you can get some quick wins. Other things will take more time."

For example, he said, versions of Volvo's 6-cylinder engine will be shared among PAG members. "That will start manifesting itself mid-decade and beyond, just based upon the product cadence that we have," Fields said.

Top-quality vehicles lead to flawless launches. Fields told Automotive News he expects perfection on Jaguar's XJ sedan and Volvo's V50 sport wagon this year.

Fields said all four PAG brands will not necessarily be sold together at every dealer location.

"There's not a lot of real estate out there, but we have to be pragmatic," Fields said. "It will be a mixture" of some or all brands together, some not.

In his prepared remarks, Fields told World Congress attendees he is particularly focused on the United States, PAG's most important market.

"Strong premium and luxury credentials give our brands great potential," Fields said. "But if we are to realize that potential, and make our full contribution to Ford's revitalization, we still have a lot of work to do."
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